2018 Summer Movie Review: BlacKkKlansman

blackkklansman-vox

Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) and Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) are assigned to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan in Spike Lee’s new joint, BlacKkKlansman. (Source: Vox)

Hearing the story about a black cop infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s sounds too good to be true. No one can direct a movie like that than Spike Lee, whose 1989 controversial film Do the Right Thing became his first monster hit. It showcases the racial tensions during a stifling summer day in Brooklyn. The tone shifts almost seamlessly–from straight-up hilarious to unflinchingly powerful. The situations the characters get into couldn’t be more relevant than in today’s society.

Over the course of 30 years, he directed what many people consider to be some of his greatest films–He Got Game, 25th Hour, and the brilliant heist film Inside Man–as well as some failures–Miracle at St. Anna, Chi-Raq, and the remake of Oldboy. Spike joins with three other writers and producer Jordan Peele (Get Out) to create BlacKkKlansman, another film relevant to current events.

The year is 1972. Ron Stallworth (John David Washington, the son of Denzel) becomes the first African-American detective for the Colorado Springs Police Department. He begins to work in the filing cabinet upon hire, in which he finds boring. Until, one day, he gives a call to the local Ku Klux Klan, led by David Duke (Topher Grace), after finding an ad in the newspaper convincing readers to join. He poses as a white racist, due to the dismay of his co-workers. He joins with with the more experienced Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), who is Jewish. Together, they decide to take down the KKK.

Never have I seen a movie this year that would make me laugh so hard one minute, and send chills down my spine the next (once the movie was over, everybody left the theater speechless). Spike shifts the tone–from humorous to dramatic–constantly throughout. His unique visual style and phenomenal soundtrack–ranging from James Brown to Emerson, Lake and Palmer–come to excellent use in a setting like this.

Washington couldn’t have been a better choice to play Stallworth, the humble, smart, doesn’t-take-shits-from-anybody police detective, sporting the short afro and ‘70s-era attire. He takes a lot of risk during his investigation, he would get into trouble every step of the way, even if he told his new girlfriend Patrice (Laura Harrier) about the whole situation. He and Driver work off each other so well together when they infiltrate the Klan, with Driver’s Flip posing as Stallworth. Grace, who looks so much like the actual David Duke, showcases his typical offbeat personality while delivering a performance that will grow on people for days after seeing it.

BlacKkKlansman may not win everyone over. This is one of those movies, however, where it’s going to spark discussion for many years to come. It’s funny, powerful, haunting, and timely. It definitely deserves a lot of attention during Oscar season. Well done, Spike!

4/4

2015 Summer Movie Review: American Ultra

Mike (Jesse Eisenberg) and Phoebe (Kristen Stewart) are about to go on the run in the stoner-action-comedy

Mike (Jesse Eisenberg) and Phoebe (Kristen Stewart) are about to go on the run in the stoner-action-comedy “American Ultra”

American Ultra is the closest we’ll get to seeing Jason Bourne as a stoner.

Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart, starring in their first movie since Adventureland, play two stoners living in a small West Virginia town. One night, Mike Howell is working at a convenience store until he sees two hitmen breaking into his car. He beats them up with a spoon and a bowl of ramen noodles. While he’s telling his girlfriend Phoebe on what happened, he doesn’t know that he is spy. Case in point, CIA agents Lasseter (Connie Britton) and Yates (Topher Grace) use him as an extermination target. His incredible abilities are activated and he is one step closer to propose to the girl of his dreams.

The end of August to the beginning of September is usually where it starts to quiet down, in terms of the box office. Even though it might flopped this past weekend, American Ultra somewhat delivers. It’s violent (maybe a little too violent), funny, and fun. However, when it tries to be funny, it really tries (sorry, Topher Grace). Jesse Eisenberg pulls off the off-beat, socially awkward guy well. Kristen Stewart gives a slightly wooden but surprisingly human supporting role as his girlfriend (throws Twilight out of the water). It might not be a classic, but I slightly enjoyed it.

2.5/4